Tag Archives: Romanian

Paștile Blajinilor (The Easter of the Gentle People)

This first story is about what we would call here (Romania) Easter of the Gentle People. Gentle as in nice, kind, you know? And one week after Orthodox Easter, uh during the first Sunday, people come out, out of their homes, and they go in the fields and spread uhhhh eggs and they try to make as much noise as possible because apparently they say that there is such a people, the gentle people, that lives in an unseen area. And these people are incapable to harm anyone. So all the, the whole country, this is a umm I don’t know, this is present everywhere in the country, not only in one specific area. So the only problem that they have is that they cannot calculate the date of Easter. So that is why people must make a lot of noise to signify that this is finally Easter day. In Romania it is called Paștile Blajinilor. It means gentle, kind, nice, sweet. 

Background: This informant has lived in Romania their whole life and is very interested in the folk traditions of various countries. They found this piece of folklore from other people in Romania.

Interpretation: This tale shows the blending of religious tradition with folk tradition. The tradition of Easter Sunday is blended with folk belief about fairies in order to create this holiday. The reason that the gentle people in the story cannot calculate the date of Easter could be connected to how in many tales about fairies, time moves differently in the land of the fairies than on earth. This may be the result of christianization of local folk belief in fairies in order to show that even they believe in Easter and affirm Christianity.

The Ielele

The second story is about some uhh formidable female creatures that are called the Shees. It is kind of a plural but in Romanian, instead of saying she and the plural is they, you make a strange plural in Romanian too. In Romanian it’s Ielele. And these are fantastic female creatures that on the night of June 24th, which is Summer Solstice, come out of nowhere, out of thin air and dance. And dance is extremely beautiful, and uh all people are forbidden, they are not allowed to see this dance. Of course, following to this interdiction, everybody wants to see this dance. So people go out into the woods, and crazy people try to see the dance of the Iele, but if they see, they go crazy. And these ieles are very nice creatures except for this sequence, the dance sequence. But if you bother them and don’t respect them and don’t show them admiration for their fantastic beauty, although you are not supposed to see them dance. They will come and bring water from the fount. And the first person that drinks water from the fountain after the Iele will drop dead. So people take very great care on the night of June 24th umm, somehow ambivalently to see the ieles, but not see them dance and not make them upset, but thinking of them in very nice terms. And again they have another name, also very nice in Romanian. They are called either the Iele or sânziene which means, it’s the name of a flower, a yellow flower called in English Sweet Woodruff. 

Background: This informant has lived in Romania their whole life and is very interested in the folk traditions of various countries. They found this piece of folklore from other people in Romania.

Interpretation: The connection between these spirits and the Summer Solstice shows a way of marking the passing of time. The Summer Solstice could have been chosen as the time for this event to mark the change of seasons. The tale also ascribes power to these women who can use magic to deal with any men that bother them. This phenomena could be due to the incredibly hot and muggy nature of the Romanian summers. People could have retreated to the forest for shade, and potentially hallucinated or tried to make sense of something that happened. Sunstroke may also be a reason for the association with death and madness if you witness the Ielele. The informant and I both believe that this story is a way of making sense of nature in the blistering heat of mid-summer. More info on the Ielele can be found at (Mafa, A. (2021, November 4). Ielele, the magic beings of the Romanian folklore. ImperialTransilvania. https://www.imperialtransilvania.com/2021/11/05/read-more/argomenti/events-1/articolo/ielele-the-magic-beings-of-the-romanian-folklore.html)

Blessed Basil

During the night of Saint John, which is in January the sixth, uh priests orthodox priests would bless the waters. After blessing the waters they would come in every house, and with the blessed waters they would bless the house. But this is a habit going on and on and on that only got interrupted for the pandemia, for the pandemic. Otherwise they would come every year, and they would come to the door and they would knock on the door, and you would open it and the priest would come with blessed song and they would sprinkle that blessed water on your walls. By now its religion, until now the story is not a story, it is a method of uh blessing your house. But from now on superstition begins, and uh when the priest sprinkles the water he does it with a bouquet of basil. A very nice smell comes out from that bouquet, and after blessing the walls, the house, the home uh the young girls would request the priest a little leaf or a little part of that basil bouquet because they say if you put that thing beneath your pillow, you dream the man you marry with, you will marry. It’s valid also for men, but men don’t do it. They are (laughs) more dignified (laughs). And this is the first layer of the story, the second layer is the further the village, the more primitive society, the harsher the habit. Actually in some villages they say that you don’t dream your husband, you see him in the mirrors and it gets freakier and freakier. But even in these days, even now, young girls, shyly or not, request the priest, “Oh could you please give me some basil, I want to dream about my future husband”. 

Background: This informant has lived in Romania their whole life and is very interested in the folk traditions of various countries. They found this piece of folklore from other people in Romania.

Interpretation: This tradition is another example of folklore and religion intertwining. The informant and I interpret it as the young women wanting some sort of blessing from an authority figure in order to think about a man. In this case the figure is a religious authority. The image that the women see is probably the man that they fancy the most. The basil also shows the power both in religion, having been blessed by holy water, and the power of nature with the strong fragrance.

Turn Over a Glass

So Romanian tradition, if you uh lose something, you can not find it, umm you can turn a glass, an empty glass, you can turn it over on the table and think about what you lost. And then after that you will be able to think about it and find it. And I, I have experience that. The only time I wasn’t able to find something was when it was truly lost and wasn’t in the house. 

Background: This informant has grown up in Romania and has absorbed some of the folk superstitions from Romania. They only tend to believe these superstitions if they have already experienced their effects.

Interpretation: The flipping of the glass may signify that you are making a conscious effort to find something. Since you have to actively think about the object it almost reinforces that you will find it. The glass staying flipped over may also serve as a reminder to try and find it.

Szekely Kapu (Szekely Gates)

Main Text: 

Szekely Kapu (Szekely Gates)

Background on Informant: 

My informant is originally from Romania, specifically the Transylvania region that is intermixed with Romanian and Hungarian roots. They came to the United States at 24 and have been here since. They are very knowledgable with the cultural context of Romania and Hungary, having grown up in Szekely tradition (a subgroup of Hungarian people living in Romania). They have graciously shared with me parts of their folklore and heritage. 


They explain: 

“Growing up in Szekely tradition, this concept of the Szekely “kapu” gate was a phenomenon we saw everywhere. 

It’s symbolism is as a kind of barrier between the family home and the outside world. Usually these gates are wooden and have important carvings that are meant to either be religious or represent something that the maker found important enough to etch in. 

It’s a connection to the ancestral past, and what’s interesting to note about them is that because in the old days it was so common, you can observe differences from these type of gates in West versus where I grew up in the East. 

But they are unique and an important connection to heritage, I know my parents looked upon it as sacred because it was supposed to be guard our ‘sanctuary’. 

My parents and their parents before them were very religious so I remember ours had a giant Isten Hozott carved into it which means ‘God has brought you’. 

The gates aren’t really created anymore but the ones left have beautiful legacies of rich culture and of course the folklore reflect in them. The carvings have immortalized the period they were created with paintings, visual imageries like crosses and doves, and of course like I mentioned before words of wisdom or associated with religion. But because of how old most of them are, they are fading from weathering. 

People in my hometown take pride in them because it shows off our village identity and it’s our little corner of the world where we get to shine with our cultural traditions. 

I think people still sell them, but it’s lost its sacredness and it’s mostly for tourism or decoration. My family still has ours up in front of the house, but it’s been up for so long that you can barely make out the carvings but still it serves as a reminder and protection of the past.”


Before this interview I had never even heard of the concept of the Szekely gate and was astounded at how much I was able to learn from it. From researching, I learned that often times these gates were made for the wealthy and as time went on it became a large part of lower households histories as well. It is fascinating how much pride the people of the Szekelyfold hold towards their cultural and folk identity. 

I admire the beautiful carvings and art that are the gates and wish it were still around as much as it was in the past rather than just a relic. I love how much emotional connection the person I interviewed had and overall just the connection the gate has with ancestral past. I love how unique the carvings are and how it can be anything from flowers, to the sun, moon, and angels.  It is also funny to note that oftentimes some of the houses are long gone yet the gates remain as reminders of what was. Overall, I learned so much about the beautiful tradition and past of Szekely kapu and hope to see one in the future. 


For visual reference: 


For more information: